Job Application Mistakes to Avoid

Close-up of a hand filling in a form
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Competition for jobs is keen, so you need to make sure your employment applications, both paper and online, are as polished as possible. A mistake in a job application can cost you a chance of getting an interview.

Take the time to carefully complete every application you fill out to be sure the information is accurate, your dates and job descriptions are correct, and there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Skimming the instructions and missing the real intent of application questions. Read carefully and don't rush. After all, who wants an employee who doesn't follow directions?

Writing "see attached" to avoid filling in material on applications. Many employers will screen primarily on the application itself so fill in all the blanks even if the information is duplicated on an attached resume.

Supplying generic statements about your skills or experiences. Instead, highlight and front load the skills and experiences most relevant to your target job.

Fabricating or exaggerating your qualifications. Dishonesty and fabricated information are grounds for immediate dismissal so avoid the temptation to make up or puff up your credentials.

Submitting your application to the wrong person or department. Make sure you direct your application to the individual or department referenced in the ad or online.

You might also email other contacts you have at the company. For example: "I thought you might want to see the materials which I submitted to HR given our helpful informational meeting last week."

Spelling or grammatical errors. Copy and paste online descriptions into a spelling and grammar checker like Word first.

Then put your finger on every word and make sure it is spelled correctly. Read your document out loud to check for grammatical errors and, when possible, have another set of eyes review your document before submission.

Writing descriptions that don't include accomplishments. Even though the application says job description, take that to mean a description of how you added value as opposed to a bland list of duties.

Neglecting to explain job gaps. If you have legitimate reasons for gaps in employment, find a way to explain why you were out of work such as "I left in good standing to care for my newborn baby or a terminally ill parent."

Listing an unprofessional sounding email address. Set up a separate email account for job related purposes that doesn't include anything like

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